I wasn’t a camp kid growing up, but I’ve heard that there’s a big difference between people that went to Summer camp when they were young and people that didn’t.
Camp people can’t get enough camp. They love it so much that they’d rather stay there than come back to their mundane lives at home, and many return to serve as camp counselors after they graduate.
I suppose I could have become a camp kid had that been the experience presented to me as a kid. But instead of shipping off to camp, I became a summer league baseball playing and TV-watching-in-the-AC kid, like most of my friends. Maybe as a result, the closest I get now to a tent or cabin vacation experience is staying in a Red Roof Inn when better hotels are sold out.
Having not been a camp kid, I have to imagine what it must be like. I’ve heard that the lasting camaraderie between fellow campers is what’s most memorable. There’s nothing like that special bond that comes from sharing an educational experience, silly sing-alongs, and story telling. And, friends back home never quite relate to your camp stories when you return.
In a way, I imagine that CEDIA EXPO is a little like the camp experience, with much better food and living conditions, and a lot more drinking of course. Like camp, those who’ve never attended CEDIA EXPO don’t really understand what they’ve been missing. It has very little to do with the debate about how important trade shows are in the age of the internet and social media, but more to do with that communal experience of meeting people that have common interests, learning things you never expected to learn, and having fun getting away from day-to-day life for a while. In a nutshell, it’s about making great friends and creating lasting memories.
There are folks that I see every year at CEDIA EXPO that don’t need to attend the convention to learn how to be a good systems integrator or to find out what new products are available. They’re there because it’s an annual tradition. It’s an affirmation of what they do for a living, and maybe even an opportunity to share their war stories and advice with younger peers.
Personally, I’m no more of a “trade-show person” than I am a camp guy, but I’ve come to respect CEDIA EXPO as an annual rite of passage. Every year I come home from the event energized about what I do for a living, having been reminded how many friends I’ve made over the years and how much I enjoy seeing the same people and meeting new people each time. It’s an experience I wouldn’t want to miss.
We may all be too old for camp, but it’s not too late to sign up for CEDIA EXPO. If you’ve never been, consider what you’ve been missing. If you’re a returning veteran like me, I probably don’t have to convince you to come to Denver in September. Be sure to bring your best ghost stories, err, I mean war stories.